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FIRST ON 3: Fmr. interim health dir. applauds Pender Health Board resignations

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The former interim health director of Pender County has issued an open letter (below) to county residents hoping to set the record straight about Pender County Board of Health. In his letter, Wayne Raynor, who served as interim health director from October to late April, says the board did a good job fixing problems, only to be derailed by political leaders.

"I personally believe this situation seriously begs for an inquiry into the motivations of certain political leaders," Raynor writes, "and reflection as to whether such elected officials are truly acting in the best interest of what’s right for you, the citizens of Pender County."

Raynor writes that he applauds the recent mass resignation of five members of the board "signaling their opposition to the unappreciative and uncooperative spirit of the county leadership. I have never, in my 35 years of public health service, witnessed such a political cancer growing on a county that has the potential to cause great harm to preventive public health services in the community."

PENDER COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Dear Citizens of Pender County:

My name is Wayne Raynor and I had the distinct honor of serving as your Interim County Health Department director for seven months from October 2010 through April 29, 2011. I had this pleasure following a 35 year career in Public Health with the Federal Government, State Government and thirteen years as a local health director in two counties. I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master of Public Health degree and past President of the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors.

I am writing to you, based upon my experience, to set the record straight on the professionalism and value of a local Board of Health and the importance of a well- functioning health department in the community. The Pender County Board of Health, as in every other North Carolina county by statute, is composed of eleven local community members as follows: one physician, one dentist, one optometrist, one veterinarian, one registered nurse, one pharmacist, one county commissioner, one professional engineer, and three representatives of the general public. This body of highly trained and skilled decision makers is one of the most professional bodies in government at any level. It is the Board of Health’s responsibility to provide administrative oversight of the Health Director and the Health Department. The Pender County Board of Health, serving under the very capable leadership of Chairman Terri King, R.N., made significant improvements in health department operations during my tenure as interim director. We identified over $200,000 in Medicare billings that had not been submitted for payment. Those revenues are now coming into the department and the county manager and county finance officer are very pleased. We reorganized clinic operations, with the assistance of our state nursing consultant partners, and implemented “open access” scheduling to make better use of staff time, improve patient flow, and to see more clients more efficiently. This too should help to maximize revenue opportunities to offset the use of county dollars. We also created a more centralized billing office to better monitor the overall billing process and enhance staff accountability. We also made significant changes in our laboratory operations and re-negotiated several vendor contracts resulting in over $60,000 in annual savings. The department made great strides in a very short period of time.

I applaud the recent mass resignations of Board of Health members signaling their opposition to the unappreciative and uncooperative spirit of the county leadership. I have never, in my 35 years of public health service, witnessed such a political cancer growing on a county that has the potential to cause great harm to preventive public health services in the community.

In closing may I say that I have the utmost respect for Board of Health members and truly do not understand how one could possibly question the integrity, competence and professionalism of such a well-educated, well-qualified and well-meaning body of decision makers. However, it is you the citizen that must decide what and whom you will believe. I personally believe this situation seriously begs for an inquiry into the motivations of certain political leaders and reflection as to whether such elected officials are truly acting in the best interest of what’s right for you, the citizens of Pender County.

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